Can't Buy Happiness?

Money, personality, and well-being

What Is the Best Way to Spend $100?

Traveling, dining and concerts are the most popular experiential purchases.

As you probably know if you if have read this blog, many recent studies focused on the relationship between money and happiness have shown that individuals who purchase life experiences are generally happier than individuals who purchase material items. However, not all life experiences are created equal. My lab and I were interested in the most popular life experiences. 

What Is the Best Way to Spend $100?
What Is the Best Way to Spend $100?
So, as part of an ongoing investigation into the types of life experiences that people like and dislike, we asked members of the BeyondThePurchase.org community to identify the types of experiences that they felt were most (and least) appealing. 

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After obtaining our survey results, we then teamed up with the people over at Ranker.com (who collect data through the crowdsourcing), to see if our findings would replicate. We asked visitors to Ranker to answer the question "What is the best way to spend $100?"

This consistency of the results was incredible. We found that data collected via these two very different websites was nearly identical to data collected through traditional online sources. Most importantly, the top five most preferred experiences on BeyondThePurchase matched the top five ranked experiences on Ranker exactly. When rating or ranking life experiences, the top five choices found in both studies were:

1. Traveling 
2. A Dining Experience 
3. A Concert 
4. Museums 
5. Massage

A similar, though not quite identical, pattern was found for the least popular experiences. Listed below are the lowest ranking experiences on Ranker, with the BeyondThePurchase rankings in parentheses:

1. Hunting (Last) 
2. Manicure (Middle) 
3. Golfing (Second to Last) 
4. The Opera (Middle) 
5. Bungee-jumping (Third to Last)

I asked my students what they thought of these results and one of them had a really interesting quote.

“With crowdsourcing becoming increasingly common, it is important to evaluate the quality of this data, as compared to traditional research methods," said Graham Hill, community manager of BeyondThePurchase.org. “Our research indicates that crowdsourcing may offer a convenient and scientifically valid method for organizations to study consumer psychology.”

At BeyondThePurchase.Org we help people understand the relationship between money and happiness. To better understand the benefits of specific consumer choices, we continue to investigate the relationships between consumer preferences, psychological needs, happiness, and values at our website by allowing people to take tests on personality. To learn about what might be influencing how you think about and spend your money, register with Beyond The Purchase, then take a few of our personality quizzes:

Can money buy happiness? Take our experiential buying survey and on your feedback page you will learn how to spend your money to be happier.

Which spending decisions will make you happiest? Take our Spending Choices and Happiness survey and on your feedback page you will learn how to spend your money to be happier.

With these insights, you can better understand the ways in which your financial decisions affect your happiness. Responses to these surveys will also help researchers further understand the connection between money and happiness.

Ryan T. Howell, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University.

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